We used to say our dogs were like our kids, but now that we actually have a child, it’s pretty clear that they are not the same thing (I’m very thankful to not have to cloth diaper a 60 lb bulldog, among other differences). But we have three dogs – two bulldogs and a smaller French bulldog, with their own unique personalities and habits. Henry was our first who we adopted at 10 months old because he’d been tortured by young children in the family. Annie was a rescue and has a heart of gold, and Eddie we got as a puppy and two years later acts like a puppy with ADD. We worried about how a baby would affect them and how’d they do together.
Though we meant to, I’m sad to say we didn’t actively try to prepare the dogs for the baby. We didn’t play crying CDs or carry around fake dolls to get them used to a baby. The only thing we did – bringing home a blanket from the hospital that smelled of the baby – failed as the dogs weren’t interested at all. When our son came home, we let each one of the dogs meet him separately and they each gave him a quick sniff and went back to their regularly scheduled naps. Nothing to write home about.
The dog we were most worried about is his protector and constant companion; Annie, who has consistently demonstrated how much she loves kids, isn’t interested in his non-mobile self yet (we’ve seen her follow toddling yearlings around to protect them from falling); and Eddie bounces around the room looking for the baby just to satisify his curiosity. The baby crying upsets them, but in a way I never thought it would: in a way of compassion.
I think the most important part of maintaining our family is desperately trying to make enough time for our four legged friends those first few weeks when we were bleary eyed and sleep deprived. The dogs get special walks and are never left alone with the baby. Food is never around their interactions. When we go for walks, the dogs are never first in line. And most importantly, everyone gets independent attention as well as group attention. We hope that in the years to come we weather the changes to our pack as well as we weathered the introduction of our newest pack member.